MSU Billings Catalog

Financial Aid and Scholarships

City College Tech Building, Jacket Student Central, First Floor
McMullen First Floor, (406) 657-2188
www.msubillings.edu/finaid/index.htm

The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at Montana State University Billings provides advice and financial assistance to students.  Although families and students are expected to make a maximum effort to meet the costs of education, financial aid is available to fill the gap between family resources and educational expenses.

Financial aid consists of grants, scholarships, loans, and employment opportunities.  Individual awards are based on the calculated financial need of the student and the availability of funds.  The estimated financial need is the difference between the cost of attending MSU Billings and the ability of the student and/or family to contribute to those education costs as determined by the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

All students are encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  This form can be completed on the web at www.fafsa.gov.  Early application is essential as some funds are limited and awarded on a first come, first serve basis until the funding has been exhausted.  Priority awarding will be given to those students who have a complete FAFSA and have submitted the required documentation to the Financial Aid Office by December 1st.  Students should allow up to two weeks for the office to receive the FAFSA.  We will then begin communications with the student regarding any additional information that needs to be submitted before we can evaluate aid eligibility.  After all requested documentation has been submitted, it can take four to six weeks before an award offer is generated.  The FAFSA must be filed annually, and becomes available for the upcoming academic year (Fall/Spring) on October 1st of every year.

What Does College Cost?

To help students make an evaluation of their financial needs, each year the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships develops a financial aid budget, called the Cost of Attendance (COA).  The COA is the ESTIMATED cost of completing a full year at MSU Billings.  It is important to note that the COA is a tool used by the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships to determine student eligibility for financial aid and does not reflect the actual bill that will be paid to MSU Billings.  To review the COA, visit: www.msubillings.edu/finaid/CostOfAttendance.htm

General Eligibility Requirements

All financial aid recipients must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be enrolled/accepted for enrollment in a degree or certificate program.
  • Cannot be enrolled in an elementary or secondary school.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Be a citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (see section below).
  • Cannot be in default on Perkins Loans, Stafford/Direct Loans, or PLUS Loans at any institution.
  • Cannot owe an overpayment of Pell or SEOG.
  • If required, must register with the Selective Service.
  • Cannot have borrowed in excess of loan limits.
  • Have need, as defined by individual program requirements (except for unsubsidized Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans).
  • Meet any other program-specific criteria.

Aid Types

Students who apply for financial aid are considered for all aid programs for which they are eligible.  The most common types of financial aid are listed below.

Grants

Federal Pell Grant

Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree and have not reached the Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility limit.  Pell eligibility is determined by a formula developed by the U.S. Congress and is applied consistently to all applicants using the information reported in the FAFSA.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

This grant is awarded to undergraduate students who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree and have financial need.  Priority is given to students who receive Pell Grants.  Eligible students may receive up to $1,000 per year depending on need.

State & Institutional Grants

To qualify for one of the state or institutional grants, a student must be a Montana resident, be eligible for financial aid, and be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as an undergraduate student.  Enrollment in at least six credits is required for most state grants.

Scholarships

Montana State University Billings has many scholarships available to students.  Any prospective or currently enrolled student may apply for a scholarship by completing a General Scholarship Application Form available online at www.msubillings.edu/scholarships.  Since the requirements and criteria are different for each scholarship, it is advisable for students to use the general application to be considered for all scholarships.  The scholarship application priority is February 1.

Employment

Federal, State, and Institutional Work-Study Programs

The federal and state work-study programs at MSU Billings are need-based and funded with federal and state dollars to provide students with part-time employment on and off campus.  Institutional and some state work-study is non-need-based and can be requested in writing to the Financial Aid Office.  However, the request must be reviewed and there is no guarantee the request will be approved.  Off campus work-study jobs are limited to community service employment.  Hourly rates of pay comply with minimum wage laws and vary with the type of work and the student’s experience and responsibilities.  Student employees are paid every other week, according to State of Montana payroll schedules.  To view a list of available jobs, students who are approved to receive work-study funding may login to their CareerLink account at www.msubillings.edu/careers

Student Employment

The Job Locator and Developer (JLD) assists MSU Billings students in obtaining part-time employment in the community.  Area businesses list job opportunities with the Job Locator.  The Job Locator Service is free to all MSU Billings students and is not based on financial need.  Students who are interested in obtaining employment should refer to the Career Link (www.msubillings.edu/careers) for available job listings.

Loans

Loans are a major source of financial aid for students.  Student loans must be repaid after the student graduates, withdraws from school, or drops below half time enrollment.  Interest rates, grace periods, and repayment requirements vary depending on the type of loan.  For more information visit: www.msubillings.edu/finaid/Loans.htm

Tuition Waivers

MSU Billings has tuition waivers for veterans, senior citizens, American Indians, faculty and staff, advanced honor students, athletes, graduate students, war orphans, dependents of firemen and policemen killed in the line of duty, and students with certain majors.  Eligibility and selection criteria vary.  Certain waivers require a separate application form and in some cases additional documentation in order to qualify.  To be eligible for Department waivers students must complete the General Scholarship Application by the February 1 priority date.  Inquire at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for specific information regarding tuition waivers.  For more information visit: mus.edu/prepare

Other Programs Available

State Vocational Rehabilitation Service

Students with disabilities may qualify for educational assistance through the Montana Department of Social and Rehabilitation Service.  In Billings they can be contacted at 406-248-4801.

Veterans’ Benefits

Students may apply for veterans’ educational benefits through the Veterans Administration.  Information can be obtained from the campus Office of Admissions and Records or the student’s local office of the Veterans Administration.

Tribal Grants

Assistance is available to many American Indian students through Tribal Higher Education Offices.  The award limits are based on the student’s need and the availability of funds.  Further information may be obtained by contacting the student’s tribe or the tribal higher education office.

More Financial Aid Information

Academic Year Definition

The MSU Billings Financial Aid Office defines the academic year as 30 weeks and 24 credits.  Therefore, the definition of fulltime enrollment is 12 credits per semester for undergraduate students.

Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards

Students are expected to maintain certain academic standards and make satisfactory progress toward a degree in order to receive federal and state financial aid.  In accordance with Federal and State laws and regulations, MSU Billings has established a policy to define and administer standards of academic progress for all students.  Detailed information explaining the financial aid satisfactory progress standards, including the appeal and reinstatement process, is available on line at www.msubillings.edu/finaid/SAP.htm.

Verification Process

Some students’ FAFSA information will be selected by the Department of Education for verification.  As a result, Financial Aid and Scholarships will request additional documentation to verify the information provided on the FAFSA is accurate and to resolve discrepant information.  By signing the FAFSA, students and parents give the University permission to ask for all verification documentation.  After these documents have been reviewed and the student has been determined to be eligible, a financial aid package will be offered.

Professional Judgement

The Higher Education Act of 1992 allows financial aid administrators to make professional judgement decisions for special or unusual family or student circumstances.  These circumstances must be documented and must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.  The Financial Aid Officer can exercise professional judgement in different ways.  Some examples are listed below.

  • If the student or student’s family (if dependent) has experienced a hardship where the income will be significantly less than the prior-prior year income that was reported on the FAFSA
  • Dependency override (also known as an Appeal for Independent Status)

Detailed information explaining the appeal for professional judgment process is available on line at www.msubillings.edu/finaid/Definitions.htm

Tuition and Fee Refund Policy

The institution’s refund policy for students who withdraw from college ranges from a 90 percent refund for class days one through five; 75 percent for class days six through 10; 50 percent refund for class days 11 through 15; there are no refunds after the 15th day of classes.  Students with financial aid may have to return some or all of the financial aid they received if they withdraw or if they do not begin attending classes.

Financial Aid Disbursement & Credit Balance Refund Policy

Most types of financial aid (grants, waivers, loans, and scholarships) are applied directly toward the student’s university bill to assist in covering those charges.  If there is money left over after the bill has been paid, the remaining amount will be sent as a “refund.”  Students can elect how they would like to receive their refund, either as a Direct Deposit or as a physical check (detailed instructions are available).  Financial aid disburses on student accounts and refunds begin to be generated the week before the start of the semester and are generated daily thereafter.  If the student elected to receive the refund as a physical check, but the check was not received, please verify that the mailing address on file with the University is correct.  Otherwise, contact Student Accounts at 406-657-2140.  Please keep in mind checks can take 5-7 business days for delivery, depending on the postal service.

Students who are offered work study must obtain employment and complete additional paperwork at the Enrollment Services-Financial Aid Office.  Students who work are paid bi-weekly based on the timecard submitted by students and their supervisors.

Return of Title IV Funds Policy

If a student withdraws from college, officially or unofficially, he or she may be required to REPAY all or part of the financial aid that was received.  Any refund will be used to repay the financial aid before any refund will be made to the student.  (Refer to Refund Policy, above.)  The amount of financial aid that must be returned to the Department of Education is based on a federal formula that takes into consideration the date of the withdrawal or last date of attendance, the amount of federal financial aid received for the term, and the amount of institutional charges for the term.  For a complete review of Return of Title IV requirements, visit: www.msubillings.edu/finaid/pdf/Return_of_Title_IV.pdf

Financial Aid – Summer Session

Summer financial aid is based on the FAFSA information used to determine eligibility for the previous fall and spring semesters.  Those students who are Pell eligible should also complete the upcoming FAFSA to ensure they receive their maximum Pell grant eligibility.  To determine aid eligibility for summer, students must complete and submit the Summer Award Acceptance form to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.  For specific information please visit: www.msubillings.edu/finaid/SummerFinAid.htm

Financial Aid - Study Abroad

The Financial Aid Director will review requests for funding “Study Abroad” coursework after receiving the following information and documentation:

  1. Document acceptance into the study abroad program
  2. A list of all necessary direct education expenses such as:  tuition and fees, books, class supplies, room and board
  3. A copy of the airline ticket or a letter from a travel agency listing the cost if the student is to incur airfare or travel expenses

The above information must be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at least six weeks prior to departure.  Any adjustments to a student’s award will be based upon eligibility and available funds.  Most grant and loan programs have yearly limits which cannot be exceeded.  These limits could affect a student’s funding level, even if allowable expenses are documented.

Consumer Information

In accordance with federal regulations set forth by the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, a summary of consumer information must be made available to all current and prospective students of Montana State University Billings.  The information that must be disclosed can be obtained at: www.msubillings.edu/finaid/Consumer_Information.htm

Questions?  Contact Us

Visit the Financial Aid Office on the University Campus (located on the 1st floor of McMullen Hall), or at City College Jacket Student Central, or by calling (406) 657-2188, sending an email to finaid@msubillings.edu or visiting www.msubillings.edu/finaid